Hearing loss tied to depression in study

March 7, 2014 by Kathleen Doheny, Healthday Reporter
Hearing loss tied to depression in study
Women, non-seniors more likely to be affected this way, researchers say.

(HealthDay)—Hearing loss is associated with depression among American adults, especially women and those younger than age 70, according to new research.

While other studies previously have found the same link, many of them looked only at or at specific regions or ethnicities, and results have been mixed, the researchers pointed out.

In the new study, as hearing declined, the percentage of depressed increased—from about 5 percent in those who had no to more than 11 percent in those who did.

"We found a significant association between and moderate to ," said study author Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a researcher at the U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. "The cause-and-effect relationship is unknown," Li said, citing a need for further studies.

The study was published online March 6 in JAMA Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery.

The new findings make sense, according to two experts in the field who reviewed the study conclusions.

"It is not surprising to me that they would be more likely to be depressed," said James Firman, president and CEO of the National Council on Aging. "People with , especially those who don't use , find it more difficult to communicate with other people, whether in family situations, social gatherings or at work."

Experts who care for those with hearing loss have long noticed the link, said Robert Frisina, director of the Global Center for Hearing & Speech Research at the University of South Florida, in Tampa. "When they come in [to see about their hearing], they mention this," he said.

Even so, Frisina noted, the study is valuable because it adds solid data to the anecdotal information.

For the new study, the researchers looked at data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, including more than 18,000 adults aged 18 and older. The younger people self-reported on their hearing status, while were given to those 70 and older. All participants filled out a questionnaire designed to reveal depression.

As hearing loss became worse, the depression did, too, except among those who were deaf. These adults, Frisina said, may be accustomed to coping with the loss.

Hearing loss was linked with an increased risk of depression in adults of all ages, but was most pronounced in the respondents aged 18 to 69, the investigators found. Women had higher rates of depression than men did.

Among those 70 and older, no link was found between self-reported hearing loss and depression. However, a link was found for women in this age group if the hearing test found a hearing loss.

That could be because women start to lose hearing in higher frequencies after age 65, and those frequencies are crucial to understand speech in noisy environments, the study authors noted.

While it is difficult to sort out cause and effect, Frisina said, the researchers did take into account other conditions that could affect hearing, including trouble seeing, and the link held. "It's probably a pretty strong link," he added.

Those who think they are having trouble hearing should seek help, he suggested. Often, family and friends notice the loss first. "If you have loss, you need to go to an audiologist and otolaryngologist and have it diagnosed properly, and then you can look at treatment options," Frisina said.

Explore further: Hearing loss linked to accelerated brain tissue loss

More information: To learn more about hearing loss, visit the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Related Stories

Hearing loss linked to accelerated brain tissue loss

January 22, 2014
Although the brain becomes smaller with age, the shrinkage seems to be fast-tracked in older adults with hearing loss, according to the results of a study by researchers from Johns Hopkins and the National Institute on Aging. ...

Few parents believe their teens are at risk of hearing loss

November 22, 2013
(HealthDay)—Few parents of adolescents believe their children are at risk of hearing loss, according to a study published online Nov. 21 in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

Obesity associated with higher risk of hearing loss in women

November 25, 2013
According to the World Health Organization, 360 million people have disabling hearing loss, a condition that is often considered to be an unavoidable side effect of aging. New research from Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) ...

Researchers identify gene mutation linked to old age hearing loss

October 25, 2012
University of South Florida researchers have identified a genetic biomarker for age-related hearing loss, a major breakthrough in understanding and preventing a condition of aging that affects 30 million Americans and greatly ...

Tinnitus study signals new advance in understanding link between exposure to loud sounds and hearing loss

February 14, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—A research team investigating tinnitus, from the University of Leicester, has revealed new insights into the link between the exposure to loud sounds and hearing loss.

Recommended for you

Drug may help surgical patients stop opioids sooner

December 13, 2017
(HealthDay)—Opioid painkillers after surgery can be the first step toward addiction for some patients. But a common drug might cut the amount of narcotics that patients need, a new study finds.

Children best placed to explain facts of surgery to patients, say experts

December 13, 2017
Getting children to design patient information leaflets may improve patient understanding before they have surgery, finds an article in the Christmas issue of The BMJ.

Burn victim saved by skin grafts from identical twin (Update)

November 23, 2017
A man doomed to die after suffering burns across 95 percent of his body was saved by skin transplants from his identical twin in a world-first operation, French doctors said Thursday.

Is a common shoulder surgery useless?

November 21, 2017
(HealthDay)—New research casts doubt on the true effectiveness of a common type of surgery used to ease shoulder pain.

Study shows electric bandages can fight biofilm infection, antimicrobial resistance

November 6, 2017
Researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center have shown - for the first time - that special bandages using weak electric fields to disrupt bacterial biofilm infection can prevent infections, combat antibiotic ...

Obesity increases incidence, severity, costs of knee dislocations

November 3, 2017
A new study of more than 19,000 knee dislocation cases in the U.S. between 2000 and 2012 provides a painful indication of how the nation's obesity epidemic is changing the risk, severity and cost of a traumatic injury.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.